Growing Reader

Tween

Brightly’s Book Club for Kids

by the Brightly Editors

Illustration: Penelope Dullaghan

Welcome to Brightly’s Book Club for Kids, where we encourage young readers to discover great books, share new stories, explore important topics, and have some bookish fun! From book-themed activities to printable discussion questions to interviews with the authors, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for a great conversation. Scroll down to see Brightly’s past and present Book Club for Kids selections.

  • * NEW BOOK CLUB PICK *
    The First Rule of Punk

    The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez, is an appealing book about 12-year-old Malú — a half-Mexican, half-punk kid — for readers who love stories about growing up, cultural identity, and standing up for what you believe. When Malú and her new friends are denied entrance into the school’s talent show, they decide they’ll perform without permission in the school’s parking lot.

    • Book Club Guide

  • Shine!

    Piper’s hero is astronaut Nellie Dumont Frisse, whose catchphrase “Shine on!” isn’t meant for someone like Piper. Or so Piper thinks — especially after transferring to a fancy private school where everyone has seemingly extraordinary talents. Co-written by bestselling author Chris Grabenstein and his wife J.J., Shine! is a heartwarming story that prizes kindness and generosity.

    • Book Club Guide

  • The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Creature of the Pines

    Kids will love this first book in the fully illustrated fantasy-adventure series, The Unicorn Rescue Society. As potential recruits for a secret organization committed to protecting magical beasts, Elliot and Uchenna find themselves on a mission to save a Jersey Devil. Filled with fast-paced, fun, and hilarious storytelling, this book does a great job keeping kids hooked.

    • Book Club Guide

  • Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans

    Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans is a lively adventure filled with tricky puzzles, smelly ninjas, and world travel. To find their missing Uncle Paul, Samantha and her little brother Nipper follow an unusual map inscribed on an old red umbrella. Together, they travel the world searching for clues while trying to avoid sword-wielding ninjas.

    • Book Club Guide
    Russell Ginns on Puzzle-Filled Kids’ Books

  • Harbor Me

    Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson is a beautifully written book that packs a big emotional punch. For an hour each week, six kids come together to share their stories — stories that are real, honest, and particularly significant in today’s world. As they bond and build trust, each is able to heal with the love and support of one another.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Jacqueline Woodson

  • Hoot

    Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot is an inspiring coming-of-age story filled with heroism, humor, and heart. When Roy, the new kid in Coconut Cove, Florida, learns of plans for a new restaurant to go up on the nesting site of some protected burrowing owls, he and a cast of quirky characters band together to stop its construction.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Carl Hiaasen

  • The Night Diary

    A compelling historical novel about a young girl and her family displaced by the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, Veera Hiranandani’s The Night Diary features relatable characters and heart-stopping drama delivered with a tender touch. A wonderful story for middle grade readers that young adults and grown-ups will enjoy reading, too.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Veera Hiranandani

  • The Penderwicks

    Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks is a delightfully charming story filled with adventure, imagination, humor, and a whole lot of heart. From runaway bunnies to charging bulls, new friendships to broken hearts — the Penderwick family’s vacation turns out to be one the sisters will never forget. Perfect for readers of all ages, you can’t help but fall for the wonderful, lovable Penderwicks.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Jeanne Birdsall

  • Saving Marty

    Fans of Kate DiCamillo’s classic Because of Winn-Dixie will love Saving Marty by Paul Griffin, a heartwarming story about a pig that thinks he’s a dog. The bond between Renzo and his pet pig Marty is remarkable, but a failing farm and a pile of bills force his mom to consider selling his best friend. This honest yet humorous story about friendship and bravery will touch the hearts of readers young and old.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Paul Griffin

  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

    When Kyle and his friends are chosen as the first to experience the wonders of Mr. Lemoncello’s new state-of-the-art library in an overnight lock-in, they expect a night of fun games and — of course — books. What they get is a race against the clock to find their way out. A fun-filled, lightning-fast tale packed with puzzles and book references, booklovers and reluctant readers alike are sure to love Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Chris Grabenstein
    • Chris Grabenstein on funny books

  • Short

    Full of warmth, lovable characters, and laugh-out-loud moments, Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Short is a delightful novel for middle grade readers that centers around a tween, Julia, who is small for her age. When cast as a Munchkin in a summer production of “The Wizard of Oz,” Julia grows in ways she never expected.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Holly Goldberg Sloan

  • Wonder

    Over 5 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder and have fallen in love with a young boy with a severe facial deformity and his story of unwavering compassion. Author R.J. Palacio’s phenomenal book tackles difficult subjects with grace and humor, offering adults and children alike a way to explore their prejudices and vulnerabilities while emphasizing the power of kindness.

    Book Club Guide
    Q&A with author R.J. Palacio

  • The War That Saved My Life

    Told from the perspective of a girl living in England during World War II, this Newbery Honor winner from author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has received rave reviews from kids and adults. The War That Saved My Life is an inspiring and gripping tale that stimulates rich discussion and provides a window into a different world.

    Book Club Guide
    Q&A with author Kimberly Burbaker Bradley

  • A Poem for Peter

    A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day, a picture book biography authored by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, is written as a single poem and gives readers a wonderful opportunity to learn about the boundary-breaking author-illustrator and one of his most famous stories, The Snowy Day.

    Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Andrea Davis Pinkney
    • Q&A with illustrators Johnson and Fancher

  • Furthermore

    From author Tahereh Mafi comes Furthermore, a terrific tale that’s full of magic, mischief, adventure, and heart. Its color-rich, wonderfully imaginative story — filled with characters you’ll love and scenes as creative as can be — will enchant readers to the very end.

    • Book Club Guide
    Q&A with author Tahereh Mafi

  • Nightmares!

    Nightmares! takes facing your fears to a whole new level. Written by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, and illustrated by Karl Kwasny, it’s an enthralling adventure filled with ghoulish fun and great lessons that you won’t be able to put down.

    • Book Club Guide
    Q&A with author Kirsten Miller

  • Fish in a Tree

    Perfect for “back to school” season, Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, is an emotionally charged story that captures the ups and downs of school, friendships, and the search for identity experienced by tweens and young teens. It leaves readers better than it found us — with greater empathy and appreciation of ourselves and others.

    • Book Club Guide
    Q&A with author Lynda Mullaly Hunt
    A note to readers from Lynda Mullaly Hunt

  • Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth

    Judd Winick’s Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth is a great graphic novel that brings together an affecting story about a young boy who doesn’t think he has anything to contribute to the world and a cracking, seat-of-your-pants adventure about rampaging robots from another dimension.

    • Book Club Guide
    Author Judd Winick on graphic novels
    Judd Winick on reading comics as a family

  • Red

    Clever, spirited, witty, and inventive, Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood turns the familiar wolf, granny, and lost girl story on its head, reinventing a traditional fairy tale with complex characters. Written by author Liesl Shurtliff, Red is funny and provocative at the same time, just like the pre-teens it was written for.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Author Liesl Shurtliff on fairy tales
    • Liesl Shurtliff’s favorite books from childhood

  • The BFG

    Roald Dahl’s The BFG is huge on charm, laughs, suspense, and heart. From the very first page, you’ll be captivated by an unexpectedly sensitive giant, a brave young girl, and an adventure you’ll never forget.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Essay by the author’s granddaughter, Lucy Dahl
    • Why The BFG Is My Daughter’s Favorite
    • Our Mother-Daughter Book Club: The BFG

  • Pax

    Destined to be a classic, Pax, written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is about the special connection between a boy and his pet, and the lengths the two will go to reunite after they are separated.

    • Book Club Guide
    Author Sara Pennypacker on exploring empathy
    Q&A with illustrator Jon Klassen

  • The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation)

    Based on the nonfiction bestseller for adults, this adaptation of author Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat is a compelling and inspirational story that follows nine young men as they train to become the American gold medal rowing team at the 1936 Olympics.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Daniel James Brown

  • The Seventh Most Important Thing

    Shelley Pearsall’s The Seventh Most Important Thing is about a boy who unexpectedly befriends the neighborhood “junk man,” a character inspired by artist James Hampton, who shows him how broken things can be made beautiful, how very little is as it first seems, and how the same is often true of people, too.

    • Book Club Guide
    Q&A with author Shelley Pearsall
    • Shelley Pearsall on finding “vision”
    • Shelley Pearsall on preserving treasures

  • Stella by Starlight

    Stella by Starlight is a beautiful narrative based on author Sharon M. Draper’s grandmother’s experience as an African-American girl growing up in the segregated South. When Stella and her brother witness a Ku Klux Klan meeting, her family and community rally together to face racism.

    • Book Club Guide
    Q&A with author Sharon M. Draper
    • A note to readers from Sharon M. Draper

  • Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

    Not only is Karen Foxlee’s Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy a beautiful tribute to the original Snow Queen fairy tale, it’s an enchanting, well-written, action-packed, and touching story on its own.

    • Book Club Guide
    • Q&A with author Karen Foxlee
    A note to readers from Karen Foxlee